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American Pastoral (2016)

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An All-American college star and his beauty queen wife watch their seemingly perfect life fall apart, as their daughter joins the turmoil of '60s America.



(based on the novel by), (screenplay)
1,071 ( 141)
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Swede Levov
Lou Levov
Jerry Levov
Rita Cohen
Sylvia Levov
Agent Dolan
Penny Hamlin
Nathan Zuckerman
Merry Levov (8 Years Old) (as Ocean Nalu James)
Bill Orcutt


Seymour Levov, going by the nickname of 'Swede' in the Jewish community he was born into, was even more of an all-American than Douglas Fairbanks himself. He had just everything an American idol can dream of: not only was the tall muscular young man his high school star athlete but he married a beauty queen named Dawn into the bargain. And as if all this were not enough, Swede later became the successful manager of the glove factory his father had founded, which allowed him to live with his wife in a beautiful house in the New Jersey countryside. Well-mannered, always bright, smiling and positive, conservative but with a liberal edge, what bad could ever happen to him ? And yet... And yet this was reckoning without fate and its obnoxious irony, Swede and Dawn's nemesis manifesting itself in the person of Merry, their beloved daughter who in her teens unexpectedly turned into a violent activist... Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A radically ordinary story. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong sexual material, language and brief violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 October 2016 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El fin del sueño americano  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$149,038 (USA) (21 October 2016)


$541,457 (USA) (25 November 2016)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The novel that inspired the film won author Philip Roth the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1998. See more »


At a backyard barbecue, Lou Levov is reading a copy of the New York Post which is in broadsheet format. The New York Post in the early 1970s was a tabloid. See more »


Four Seasons: Allegro
Composed by Antonio Vivaldi
Performed by Takako Nishizaki, Capella Istropolitana, Stephen Gunzenhauser
Courtesy of Naxos Of America
See more »

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User Reviews

A radically ordinary story of American Dream's shadow side
23 January 2017 | by See all my reviews

American Dream that has gone wrong. Picture perfect couple (Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly) has a troubled child. At first the girl has a stuttering problem but growing up and reaching puberty, there is no denying that she wants to be nothing like them. And then it gets much worse...

Don't worry, it's not a horror movie or thriller although the summary may hint at that. To put it really shortly, it's a family drama.

Also starring Dakota Fanning (the daughter as adult), Molly Parker (as her psychotherapist), Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes from "Orange Is the New Black"!), Valorie Curry, Peter Riegert, David Strathairn. There are a lot of good actors movie although McGregor's character is firmly in the center of it all.

This is gonna be the kindest review of "American Pastoral" you will probably read. Critics seem to hate it and viewers will likely stay indifferent, or not praise it highly. But me – I'm loving it!

To really understand what Ewan McGregor's directorial debut* is all about, you must be interested in watching and deciphering it as a parable, or simple story which includes a hidden moral or spiritual lesson.

On more superficial level, "American Pastoral" can be watched just as a family drama set in 1950-60's USA. This way, it's a functional if uneasy viewing which makes you fathom something bigger lurking somewhere around the corner but not quite appreciate it fully.

On deeper level it's about how difficult it really is to be flexible to the world and life around us. It's very human to long for freedom and try to place everything in boxes at the same time.

The deeper meaning here can unfold by relying on several different frameworks – psychoanalytical, just intellectual or spiritual / symbolic.

The viewer's personal approach will, of course, be highly dependent on one's general world view, be it esoteric or rational (all things are ultimately explainable by science and reason), or somewhere in between.

I say "American Pastoral" is most enjoyable from spiritual viewpoint. Actions and the behaviour of the characters make the most sense and seems most understandable and human, if one concentrates on WHY we do things we do. If one only view causal relationships – he/she did it because of the past event x or y – the whole story loses a lot of its colours and shades.

The real magic here is how Ewan McGregor, with the help of all his cast and crew, has managed to make the movie work on every level you choose to see it.

One may not particularly enjoy approaching "American Pastoral" just rationally as many critics have done. But the movie still has a strong sure sense of style, both in visuals and storytelling.

This also works on two levels. Some see the movie as comical and theatrical, and characters as caricatures. At the same time, all this can convey so much emotion and sharp little observations about everyday life and relationships, that one can't help but be delighted during at least some moments. Just like reading a good spiritual book.

I liked all the actors and Ewan McGregor is my long-time favorite. But especially powerful are Dakota Fanning and Valorie Curry, both evil and innocent at the same time.

It's not often that movie manages to talk to me so directly and arouse emotions so strong as "American Pastoral" did. This is one of my big favorites from 2016 so far.

It may surprise that McGregor has such a sure hand as a first-time director of a complex movie. But he has always been versatile and has starred in similarly dark and complex movie already, 2003's forgotten little gem "Young Adam".

What DOES surprise is the fact that McGregor was not the original director and the man behind all this. As a director, he stepped in at the last minute after Philip Noyce left the production!

I have planned on reading the works of Philip Roth for over ten years or so. Still haven't done it somehow. After seeing "Pastoral", I want to do it even more.

* I know, McGregor has also co-directed 1999's "Tube Tales" but he only had a segment in anthology movie. "American Pastoral" can be still called his real debut as a movie director.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
why Phil Noyce?! Nick_Dets
To those who have read the book... tam358
American Pastoral a movie? juliench99
Sela Ward as the Swede's wife? dalegcollier
script? funkypiranha
The ending Em-25
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